A dog running on a dirt road.
Local dog Jeffrey Pine jogging on an unimproved dirt road in the park.

Deb Manley


"Why aren't pets allowed on trails?"

For many visitors, seeing wildlife is a highlight of a national park visit. Unfortunately, the mere presence of pets in the park alters the natural behavior of native wildlife. In national parks, the native species have priority.

  • Odors left behind by dogs may prevent wildlife from returning to important habitats such as fan palm oases.
  • Sensitive archeological sites are often difficult to see and may inadvertently be disturbed by inquisitive four-legged visitors.
  • The safety of your pet is important as well.Abundant cactus spines, rattlesnakes, and thorns are good reasons not to let your pet roam free. Dogs are natural hunters, but can easily become the hunted. Predators such as coyotes and mountain lions can kill pets, even during daylight hours.
  • Even though your pet follows instructions and is very well behaved, others do not know your pet and may feel uneasy when encountering an unleashed animal.
  • By following the park’s simple regulations and respecting fellow visitors, you and your pet can have a happy and healthy park outing.

Regulations for Pets in the Park:

Having a pet with you may limit some of your activities and explorations in the park. Abiding by these pet regulations will ensure a safer, more enjoyable visit for yourselves, other park visitors, your pet, and the park's wildlife.

  • Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go.
  • Pets need to be on a leash no longer than six feet in length (or in a cage) at all times.
  • You may not leave your pet unattended in vehicles if it creates a danger to the animal, or if the animal becomes a public nuisance.
  • If you plan to hike or take a river trip, someone must stay behind with the pet, or you will need to make arrangements with a kennel service. There is no kennel service in the park.
  • Pet etiquette and park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.

Service Animals

The 2010 revision to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a “service animal” as an animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Animals that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including animals that are used to provide comfort or emotional support (e.g. therapy animals), are considered pets and not service animals.

Service animals in training and pets are subject to the park’s pet regulations and are not allowed on trails or more than 30 feet from any road, picnic area or campground. Falsely portraying a pet as a service animal is considered fraud and is subject to federal prosecution under 36 CFR. 2.32(a)(3)(ii).

A national park is a refuge for the animals and plants living in it. Even if your pet does not chase deer, birds, or ground critters, it still presents the image and scent of a historical predator. The result is stress on the native wildlife. In addition, predators such as owls, coyotes, mountain lions, and javelinas can and do kill pets. Even large dogs cannot defend themselves against predators. Contagious diseases can also be transmitted between your dog and native coyotes and other wild animals.

Thank you for abiding by these pet regulations while enjoying the park.

Last updated: March 7, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129


(432) 477-2251

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